Pluto 1

What makes us human? Can robots learn to be human?

And what does Pluto have to say about it?

Welcome to Pluto 1! You’ll be expected to finish this unit between Tuesday April 7 and Monday April 13, when you’ll upload your “Pluto 1 Weekly Journal” to GoStudio.

NOTE: My planning assumes you’re reading Pluto vol. 1 this week. Please have it finished for our class meeting on Thursday April 9.

(You’ll need to finish Pluto vol. 2 by next Tuesday, April 14.)

We have two objectives for this lesson plan:

1. To put Pluto into the context of the history and culture of manga.

2. To analyze the book’s ethical and existential questions about humanity and technology.

Let’s look at the steps and activities you’ll complete:

  • Day 1 (begin Tues April 7)

    1. Begin keeping a reading journal.

    2. Watch “A History of Manga.”

    3. Listen to the brief audio lecture.

    4. Start your homework for Thursday.

  • Day 2 (Thurs April 9)

    Take part in our live class meeting and post your responses (see below).

  • Final Step (Mon April 13)

    Upload your “Pluto 1 Weekly Journal” to GoStudio.

Let’s get started….

Day 1 (Tues April 7)

Step One. Since you’ll be reading a lot, it’s a good time to start a reading journal. This journal will be included in your Weekly Journal assignment due on Sunday. There are no rules for what goes into the journal, only these guidelines:

  • Jot down notes and observations as you read Pluto vol. 1;
  • Include any questions you think of related to the characters, plot, setting, or themes;
  • DRAW: Feel free to sketch along with the book, the lectures, etc. Taking “pictorial notes” can be a good way to help you retain information.
  • You might want to do some research on your own, which is great! Jot down any notes from that research here, as well. You can include links, sources, and quotes;
  • You might also find art work online that you want to include. Feel free, just make sure you say who made it and where you found it.
  • Eventually you’ll need to upload this to GoStudio. If you want to keep a handwritten journal, that’s fine, you’ll just need to either type it up or scan it so you can submit it.

STEP TWO. Watch the 8-minute talk, “A History of Manga,” by Helen McCarthy, below. Include at least one observation or question inspired by McCarthy’s talk in your reading journal.

Optional Viewing: The video lecture below is a much more in-depth–and thus longer–look at the history and form of manga.

STEP THREE: Listen to the brief audio lecture below.

“Pluto: An Overview” (Music: Prince, “America”)

Here’s the script for that lecture:

HOMEWORK for Thursday’s class

Step One: Answer the following two questions. Both concern the question of what distinguishes humans from artificial intelligence. You’ll post your answers on a Google Doc. (I’ll share the link on GoStudio.)

1. What is the significance of memories and dreams in Pluto vol. 1?

2. What is the significance of art in Pluto vol. 1?

Step Two: Copy/paste your own question about Pluto vol. 1 into the Google Doc. You can ask another question about being human v. being a robot, a related theme, a specific quote from the manga, its characters, plot, art, etc. Feel free to use something from your reading journal.


Day 2 (Thurs April 9)

Today we’ll meet via Zoom from 4:00-4:30pm. I’ll post the link on GoStudio in the weekly section. The Google Doc link will also be posted there.

Make sure you post your answers to the two questions above and then post your own question. We will discuss the responses as they’re uploaded.

Read the requirements for the Weekly Journal below so you know what to be working on between now and Sunday.


Final Step (Monday April 13)

Today you’ll need to upload your Pluto 1 Weekly Journal. Here’s what it needs to include:

  1. All of your reading journal;
  2. Your responses to the questions I posed in the Google Doc;
  3. The question you posed on the Google Doc.
  4. NEW: Answer the following: How does Urasawa’s art style affect our perception of the characters’ humanity or robot-ness? Just a decent paragraph about this will do.

Upload this to the GoStudio dropbox in the weekly section.

You’re done!! Remember to finish Pluto vol. 2 by Tuesday.

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